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Streaming services has evolved to the point, where many of them are now free including Pluto TV, Crackle, Roku, Redbox and Sling Free.
They may not be complete replacements to the bigger platforms with more features like YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV, but it doesn’t mean the free services are inferior either. Just different.
Regardless of their features or content, they are still great alternatives for people on a budget. If you are one of them, keep on reading to find out where you can stream live TV for free.
Is Pluto TV Actually Free?
Pluto TV is free and remains a popular choice for free services among cord-cutters. It is also very easy to use.
You do not even have to set up an account. Just open your web browser or the Pluto TV app, go to the Pluto TV website, and you are good to go. This means you can watch Pluto TV on various devices like mobile phones, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, gaming consoles and more.
Not only does the service offer live TV, but it also has a free on-demand library. However, you will have to sit through a few commercials as you watch. But this is how the platform is able to make money while providing a free service to it’s viewers.
The service also does not have a DVR or offline-viewing feature. However, you can fast forward or rewind a show or movie.
What Channels Do You Get on Pluto TV?
Pluto TV’s live offerings are diverse, and they have their channels sorted on the menu screen based on their genre. You have more than 100 channels to choose from, like MTV, Nickelodeon, A&E, CNN, Newsmax and WeatherNation TV.
If the number of live channels is not enough, the service also has 1,000+ shows and movies you can watch on-demand. They feature several popular shows and films like The Walking Dead, Fargo, The Terminator, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short and more.
Pluto TV cannot compete with the likes of Netflix or Hulu when it comes to on-demand and original content, but there is still a lot considering its a free platform.
Additionally, after acquiring the service back in 2019, Viacom, which owns CBS, sometimes markets Paramount+ by having the premiere episodes of their shows stream on the service for a limited time. For instance, last February, Pluto users got to enjoy a two-week sample of The Equalizer and Clarice.
In terms of local channels, in some areas, Pluto TV only offers CBS. If you want more local programming, install a decent antenna. For more information on local networks and antennas can be read here.
Nevertheless, Pluto TV is a very good free alternative to paid subscriptions, with many hours of entertainment.
Is Crackle TV Really Free?
Crackle is a product of Sony Picture Television and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Like Pluto TV, you can enjoy Crackle’s on-demand library for free without creating an account.
While you can set up an account, the only advantage of this is personalizing your viewing history and recommendations.
The service is available on many platforms. You can stream through a web browser, mobile device, gaming consoles, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and more.
How Do You Get Crackle TV?
For mobile and desktop users, accessing Crackle is as easy as opening your browser and going to their website.
However, getting Crackle for smart TVs is a different story. You have to go to your device’s respective app store, enter “Crackle” on the search bar and download the app from there.
If you choose to set up an account, you can activate your device by following these steps:
- Open the Crackle website from your computer or mobile device
- Sign in to your account
- From your smart TV, open the Crackle app
- Select “Activate Your Device” to see the activation code
- Enter the activation code on the Crackle website
- Wait for a couple of minutes for your account to sync
Note: You can skip the activation process by selecting “skip” however, you won’t be able to personalize your account.
Is Crackle TV Any Good?
Crackle TV is worth it, especially since it is completely free.
While there are obscure films like 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, Mom Murder and Me and What Katy Did, there are also notable films like Exit Plan, Lord of War, Sin City and Run All Night, which feature big-name actors.
Crackle also has original content readily accessible for those who are looking for something new. At the time of writing, there are sixteen films and twenty-one TV series available in its library. These numbers are small when compared to its competitors, but they are noteworthy inclusions nonetheless.
Like all streaming services, there are a few caveats.
First, it is on-demand only. It does not offer live TV broadcasts, unlike Pluto TV.
Second, the service is ad-supported, so your viewing experience will be disrupted by frequent ad breaks.
Third, Crackle does not offer offline downloading and high-definition streaming.
But even with these disadvantages, Crackle remains a good option for cord-cutters. It does not offer the best features in the market, but it provides enough content for its users.
What is Roku TV and How Does it Work?
The Roku player provides users easy access to streaming content on a TV. From Netflix and Hulu to Sling TV and fuboTV, Roku has various specialized channels you can add to your device.
However, unlike Pluto TV and Crackle, Roku is not exactly free. A Roku player starts at $29.99 and goes up to $99.99, with other models between. You can use these devices on any TV using HDMI.
Thankfully, if you purchase a players, it’s a one-time fee. Once purchased, you can download the myriad of free channels on the Roku Channel Store.
Even if some channels like Netflix and HBO are free to download from the Roku Channel Store, these are still subscription-based services. You will still need to pay to access them.
What Channels are Free on Roku?
Roku has thousands of paid and free channels. You can add channels by navigating the Channel Store using a web browser, Roku’s mobile app or the TV itself. Just search for the channel you are looking for and download it.
Free channels on the device include:
- CBS News
- The CW
- PBS Kids
- Popcorn Flix
Aside from these, you can also enjoy Crackle and Pluto TV apps on Roku. There are even free media apps like Plex TV, Spotify Music, Twitch, YouTube and Firefox.
But the Roku Channel is in a league of its own. It offers a library of free on-demand shows and movies. You can even enhance this experience by paying for the premium services like Starz, Epix and Showtime.
There are also more than 100 live TV channels on it, including, but not limited to, ABC News Live, USA Today, Outside TV, Fubo Sports Network.
What is Redbox Free TV?
Redbox is known for their movie rental service, but they also a small component of the streaming industry.
Redbox Free TV is an ad-supported live and video-on-demand service. It launched nationwide in 2020, before the pandemic. From news outlets like CBC News and Bloomberg to sports channels like beIN Sports Extra and Outdoor America, Redbox has entertainment for all.
Not only does it offer free live TV streaming, but it also has on-demand content. However, the list of free content is short. Plus, blockbuster films are “for rent” rather than “for free.”
Notable free on-demand films in the service include Boulevard, Ghost in the Shell, Furry Vengeance and Drift.
Follow these steps to watch on Redbox Free TV:
- From your browser:
- Go to the Redbox website and select “Watch Free” at the bottom of the page
- You will see “Free Live TV” and “Free On Demand.” Choose whichever content you want to watch
- Each selection is sorted based on genre. Choose a show or movie, press “Play” and enjoy watching
- From your mobile device and smart TV:
- Download the Redbox app from your device’s respective app store
- Open it and select “Explore Free Content”
- Toggle between “Free Live TV” and “Free On Demand” tabs
- Select a show to watch and click “Play”
Note: Redbox also works on Android TV, Apple TV, Roku and more.
How can I Watch Sling TV for Free?
Sling TV requires a monthly subscription. Fortunately, Sling does offer a service you can try for free. You do not need to register nor include your billing information.
With Sling Free, you can watch select episodes of certain shows. At the time of writing, you can enjoy 253 episodes of Hell’s Kitchen, 13 episodes of The Amazing World of Gumball, 125 episodes of Family Feud and more. There are also live shows like ABC News Live Update, CBSN Live News Hour and The Stephanie Miller Show.
To watch Sling Free, follow these steps:
- From your web browser:
- Open the Sling TV website
- Click “Watch Free Now” at the bottom of the page
- Select a show or movie to watch and enjoy
- From your Android, Amazon and Roku device:
- Open the Sling TV app
- Click “Explore Free Content”
- Select a show or movie to watch and enjoy
Note: Sling Free is currently not available on iOS and tvOS devices.
When it comes to streaming free TV, there are many options available for cord-cutters.
Pluto TV offers plenty of high-quality content. Even though CBS news channels are the only local broadcasts you will find, the service is free, so you can couple it with a good antenna or another streaming service.
Crackle TV, Redbox Free TV and Sling Free are similar to Pluto. However, their content is limited to obscure and old shows and films, with blockbusters behind a paywall.
Roku is accessible and versatile. It has plenty of free live and multimedia channels, but you will need to buy a Roku player first or download the app on a Smart TV.
Free streaming services and cable TV are essentially the same. However, the biggest advantage these services have over traditional cable is they are accessible to everyone.
Lloyd Rano Opalec
Do you use any of the free streaming services mentioned above? If you do, would you recommend them? If you do not, do they offer enough features and content for you to add them to your device? Let us know in the comments below.
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